"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monster Work Continues

So I've been working on my presentation for Friday. Remember - the monster talk in front of the scary 2nd and 3rd graders. Or was it the scary monster talk in front of the 2nd and 3rd graders. Either way.

I've got pictures printed from Scooby Doo galore and some mythology ones to go along with it. I have a game. And a word search.

Do you think I'm going overboard? Maybe, but it sure is fun. Now to make them think I'm fun. Or maybe scary?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why I Love Babe

We watched Babe the other night for the first time in years. Every time I watch it, I can see how it won best picture.
Babe tells the story of a cute little piglet. He learns to make a home at the farm where he lives. But though he's cute, it's the farmer who really steals the show in my opinion.
There's the dance scene when Babe is sick. The farmer's wife isn't home, and he starts dancing giving it everything he has. So awesome.
And then there's the fact that he believes in himself and in his pig. He doesn't let people laughing at him stop him from what he knows he can do. He finds a way around the rules, and wins in the end.
I get a tear in my eye every time I see this movie. OK, I get lots of tears.

I have to mention my kids didn't take their eyes off it. My son (now 6) is shocked that the poor mommy pigs are going off the the slaughterhouse. My daughter (3) has no clue. She jsut likes the talking animals.


And just a sidenote since I'm talking about movies. Did you see there's a new Mummy movie coming out this year? Not until August 1st (which is Egyptian New Year by the way). But it's going on my calendar now!

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Wii or not to Wii

We've decided to take the plunge. I've been having so much fun seeing pictures on a friend's blog of their family playing with the Wii, that, well, we're going for it.

We've been anti-computer games in the past. But here are my thoughts:
1) Fun family activity. We can compete against each other.
2) More active than watching a video of Scooby Doo.
3) I can bowl, play ping pong, and box, all while never leaving my family room.
4) The kids will think I'm a cool mom for buying one.
5) When friends come over for play dates, they will think I'm a cool mom.
6) I want to be a cool mom.

I have a friend who works at Nintendo. He can guarantee me one in a week. So after a quick price check (thanks, Mom), I'll put in my order.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How to Create a Monster

Note: This has nothing to do with raising kids.

Next Friday I get to go talk to 2nd and 3rd graders about how I come up with monsters and characters in science fiction and fantasy. Um, how cool is that?
Seriously, I'm already thinking of the things I can say. But ... if you happen to have any great insight into the subject of monster creation, please let me know.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Edge of the Forest and 2k8!

Head over to The Edge of the Forest this month for tons of great stuff. Oh, and look for my article on The Class of 2k8. See, we're everywhere!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I diverge for a bit...

... to talk about our bulk trash collection. Twice a year, we get to put out big items. They have some kind of secret schedule they make up, so you're never quite sure when your chance will come. You save up for six months waiting for the note to be delivered to your mailbox.

Why a secret calendar, you might ask? After all, we're talking trash here. Turns out it's to prevent scavenging.

Personally, I'd much rather someone with a trailer drive around picking up bulk trash than it just going to the dump. Today, we put out an old bathroom sink and a 30-year-old double mattress. Within a half hour, both were gone. I'm happy to know someone might actually get some use out of a mattress. Talk about an item that's hard to get rid of. There's like one place in town you can donate them to.

I noticed the Papasan chair down the street lasted a good ten minutes. Our BBQ smoker last time was about the same. From what I gather (from the guy I caught scavenging today and asked), metal is where it's at. He said "big bucks". So I'm thinking, could metal scavenging possibly support my writing?

Side note: I have to admit, during bulk trash time, I slow down and look while driving around the neighborhood. To date, I've never stopped and taken anything, but, hey, I have all week ahead of me!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A fun, fun meme

This is a fun one. I couldn't resist when I got tagged by Chris at The Simple and The Ordinary. Thanks, Chris!

Here are the specifics:

The rules are:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.


So, I reached to my stack and picked up The Book of the Dead. P123 is a full page photo from a papyrus scrolls, and seeing as how I have no clue on reading hieroglyphics (Little Willow, you could probably interpret), I opted for book 2 in the stack.

So here's book 2 - The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

Re-zip and cover with a dirty pillowcase to deter inspection. If you suspect you will be the subject of a search (particularly a search by a thieving roommate), hide valuables among your roommmate's possessions. Make sure the hidden item is well concealed in the back of a closet, under her bed, or in another location she is unlikely to visit regularly.

So now you have some tips on how to hide things in a dorm room.

I tag:

Barrie
Jim D.
M. P. Barker
Kim B.
Jason (you are in college, so the dorm room thing may help)

Have fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's not like it's planning a wedding or something

The past meeting I had with my editor, we talked about what day I wanted to have my book release party, what kind of party I wanted, etc.

OK, when I got married, I planned for a year. In retrospect, this seems outrageous, but things had to be reserved ahead of time. And, heck, the Catholic Church doesn't even let you get married unless you go to them six months ahead of time, and then, if that's all it is, good luck on getting the church that day. And then there's the reception. And the photographer. Trust me, the list goes one.

So what goes into planning a book release party? I decided I wanted to do something big (as opposed to small at my house), so we're going to have it at BookPeople (hopefully), the big indi bookstore here in town. I'm thinking now I need to start heading to every release party I can and seeing "how the cool people do it". I think Libba Bray is there this weekend. Or maybe she already was. And this summer there're having the big Rick Riordan party. Of course, it's going to be in the parking lot and probably spill out into the street. Maybe I can get such a turnout?

The last party I planned was my daughter's three year. We had a turtle, a frog, a scorpion, and two snakes. Oh, and a tarantula. (Herpeton in case you're interested in booking your own party). Would something like that work? :)

One thing I know is that in Texas, no party is without a pinata and a large stick. Now to come up with a design for an Emerald Tablet pinata.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It looks like my name!

Is it weird that I get excited when I see a post like this? (Notice The Emerald Tablet under the CBAY division).

And then to further make the day seem unreal, I may be on a panel at NCTE in San Antonio is November with other Class of 2k8 authors. Do I know how to be on a panel? Have I ever been before? If you guessed no to both questions, you're right!

You could be the winner!

Bored? Surfing the web? Love books? Especially new ones?

If you're sitting around looking for something to do (or even if you're not bored), hop on over to The Class of 2k8 webpage and enter our quarterly contest.

It's simple. All you have to do is browse around a few of our featured authors' webpages looking for answer to our virtual scavenger hunt and then email us the answers. Seriously. I'm thinking it'll take ten minutes tops to get the questions right.

Entries are already starting to come in. Don't be caught unprepared. Enter now!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cliches and Kung Fu

Cliches do get knocked so bad in writing. But I think about how much we use them in every day life. And similes. And metaphors. One goal for this year is to train myself to think with more creative comparisons.

But I had a laugh this morning in Kung Fu when learning some new material. See there are like a million different things to learn. You got sparring, short katas, long katas, street techniques, self defense techniques. The list could go on and on and on.

There's the John Travolta Self defense move.
The drunken cowboy punch.
The bar fight stance.
The Bruce Lee bouncing punches.
The chicken kick.
The Tudor House jab.
The grapevine.

Ok, the list could go on.

What I especially want to get better at are my size comparisons. The rock was as big as a beach ball might kind of convey the size, but there's no life to the statement. I want a funny comparison. A witty comparison. And a unique comparison.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh, WIP, I've missed you

Subtitle: In order to win the most diligent soon-to-be-published award ...

I finished my edits last night and emailed them off today. Truthfully, I was tempted to email them off last night, but I didn't want my editor to think I rushed them. Which I didn't. The first 50 pages had a good amount, but after that, there was a random removal of an "OK" here and there, but that's about it. (My editor tells me this is my "writing tick". OK, I don't know about you guys, but I totally don't see it.)

So now it's back to WIP (:)). Time to pull out The Complete Worst-Case Scenario, put my protagonist in some extreme situation, and then let him figure a way out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quiz for the day

(credit given to my mom).

What three words in the English language do not rhyme with any others?

Note: Actually, there are more than three. But see if you can think of three.

We interrupt this previously scheduled program...

... to do a few minor revisions on The Emerald Tablet. Gave my editor a revision last week. Met with her today. I'm hoping three days tops away from the WIP (which I'm up to 5000 words on BTW).

One of the many nice things about living in the same town as my editor is I can actually meet with her in person. She can hand me my 300 pages and point out the edits (which thankfully are not many). We can chat about book launch parties, historical reenactment costume making, and copy edits all within the span of two hours. And then we can plan to meet again next week.

Because no one likes a cold shower

Ok, so the chill woke me up at 4:00 this morning. Have you seen King of the Hill? Well, it's kind of like that. Here is Texas, we have propane and propane accessories. And sometime during the night, our propane tank ran out.
At times like this, having to fork over the $400 to fill the thing doesn't matter. All you want is heat and hot water - neither of which I had before leaving the house.

Still, I didn't let it stop me from the 5 am exercising. I washed my hair in the sink in cold water afterward and figured it didn't matter so much if I stunk at work. After all, I work with a bunch of engineers (no offense Jim :)).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Latest Artwork

I'm slowly going through and replacing the artwork in my house. OK, I haven't yet been able to force myself to take down the Picasso everyone and their brother owns, but it's such great art.

So here's my latest addition:


I think Michael Whelan is brilliant. If you think his work looks familiar, that may be because he's done covers for Tad Williams, Isaac Asimov, and Stephen King.

Here's the next one I want. I don't think it's available yet in print form, but I can keep hoping! So if any of you just happen to be best friends with Mr. Whelan, please check if he has an extra copy lying around.

Note: I tried to convince my kids this new print was actually a portrait of me levitating a ball above my head when I used to know telekinesis, but they didn't quite believe me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's nice to know nothing really changes

That I can walk outside to my car this morning and look two houses down to see this:


Note: There are two teenage boys living there. My theory is that girls did it who have a crush on one of them. I'm working on confirming with their dad. He says they only have to look for the person with the bandage of their arm from running into the prickly pear cactus.

1000 words in

Yep, it finally started. I got down to work on my new WIP.

I came up with a great opening line, and it kind of went from there. 1000 words may not seem like much, especially for the beginning, but give me two months of that, and I'll have a novel (or at least a first draft).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sushi, Shiner bock, Stories

So what do you get when you combine raw fish, a Shiner Bock and a Kirin Ichiban on draft, and two authors?

You get me and fellow 2k8er Stacy Nyikos having dinner at the Kona Grill here in Austin, TX. (Oops, sorry - I forgot to get a picture.)

Stacy's in town for a week of author visits. She was able to sneak away for an evening of dinner, so we headed to the posh new mall in Austin (The Domain - how Austin supports a Neiman Marcus, a Tiffany's, and a Louis Vuitton I still need to figure out. Actually, I think the city subsidized the new mall which may help explain). Regardless, the atmosphere was nice, and the food was great (we split Calamari and Sushi).

You can read more about Stacy's MG fantasy novel here. Dragon Wishes comes out this year also from Blooming Tree Press.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Finding Humor

I'm happy when life presents me with an opportunity to laugh. Take today. I was helping my son find some small plastic part of a toy in my car when I realize how dirty it is inside. OK, sure, with kids, goldfish and pretzels will find there way everywhere, but still, vacuuming every now and then is a good thing.
So I haul out the small hand vacuum and give my car the once over. Ten minutes later, I'm done. It's not perfect, but it looks presentable.

Fast forward an hour later. I head to daycare to pick up my daughter. Strap her in the car seat, and head home. Minutes later I hear her kick off her shoes, and hear the sand coming out of each one, right onto my nice clean carpets.

The First of Many Release Days

Today is release day for two fabulous debut authors. OK, I've mentioned them previously, but as it is their special day, they both deserve a huge congratulations!

I give you:

THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher (Contemporary YA)
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder (Contemporary Paranormal YA)

If you get a chance, stop by their websites and say hi!

---

I remember at the NY SCBWI conference last year, Ann Brashares spoke about the release of her debut novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She talked about how excited she was. She lived in NY at the time. That morning, she dropped her kids off at school and started her walk to the bookstore so she could see her book on the shelves. And then it happened. September 11, 2001.
Wow. It was such a moving story, and she herself was a great speaker. I highly recommend seeing her if you ever get the chance.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Did anyone notice the cool widget?

It's on the sidebar, and each time you load the page, you get a different book cover from The Class of 2k8. And, no, I take no credit for designing it. It was a gift from a fellow class member. But load my page a few times, and you should see my book cover.

Our webpage content is growing, so you may want to buzz over and take a look.

And the biggest news is that two of our books come out tomorrow! Yep - tomorrow. Can you believe it's 2008 already. For Liz Gallagher and Lisa Schroeder, this is their big day.

And finally, I leave you with a list of all 28 books. You can mark them on your calendar, or check back here. I'll post them each as they debut!
*Yep - you see me down in October!:)


January
THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher (Contemporary YA)
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder (Contemporary Paranormal YA)

February
THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES by Jody Feldman (Contemporary MG)

March
A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce (YA)

April
BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle (Historical Paranormal YA)
THE LUCKY PLACE by Zu Vincent (Contemporary YA)
BRALESS IN WONDERLAND by Debbie Reed Fischer (Contemporary YA)
A DIFFICULT BOY by M.P. Barker (Historical YA)

May
ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, New York by Daphne Grab (Contemporary YA)
SHIFT by Jennifer Bradbury (YA Mystery)

June
THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas (MG Fantasy)
READ MY LIPS by Teri Brown (YA Romance)
A HORSE OF HER OWN by Annie Wedekind (Contemporary MG)

July
BRINGING THE BOY HOME by N.A. Nelson (MG Adventure)
LA PETITE FOUR by Regina Scott (Historical YA)
UNDONE by Brooke Taylor (Contemporary YA)

August
SLEEPLESS by Terri Clark (Paranormal YA)
THE KULAK'S DAUGHTER by Gabriele Goldstone (Historical MG)
UP AND DOWN THE SCRATCHY MOUNTAINS by Laurel Snyder (MG Fairy Tale)

September
DRAGON WISHES by Stacy A. Nyikos (MG Fantasy)
THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas (Contemporary YA)
SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD by Nancy Viau (Contemporary MG)
THIRD GRADE BABY by Jenny Meyerhoff (Contemporary MG)


October
THE UNNAMEABLES by Ellen Booraem (MG Fantasy)
THE EMERALD TABLET by PJ Hoover (MG SF/Fantasy)
MY SO-CALLED FAMILY by Courtney Sheinmel (Contemporary MG)
AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER DOES THINGS DIFFERENT by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb (Historical MG)


December
I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES by Barrie Summy (MG Mystery)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

We have a trailer!

The Class of 2k8, that is.
How cool is that?
Turn up the volume, enjoy, and count down the days until all 28 great books are released!



And, no, I have no idea why the video loops at the end. It's been a mystery. Chocolate prize for whoever figures it out. In the meantime, just click the stop button once it's done.

Because sometimes we all need a kick in the ...

I'm taking the plunge with HipWriterMama's 30-day challenge. Here's the scoop. Do something every day for 30 days, and you'll form a new habit.

So, for the next 30 days (starting yesterday), I will drink 8 glasses of water a day.

I did some calculations yesterday with my kids. To figure out how many glasses of water you need a day, take your body weight in pounds, divide by 2 (to get how many ounces), and then divide by 8 to find out how many cups you need a day.

I need 8. My son needs 4. Daughter 2. Husband 12. (These are all rough approximations).

It's too late to officially sign up for the challenge, but never too late to challenge yourself!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

When to start the next WIP?

I'm so close. And then another idea comes to me, so I have to incorporate it because it's a good one. (Side note - I got the idea from my son's toys).
I plan and plan and plan. Theoretically I could plan forever (or at least for another month).
But here's my goal. Start on January 8th (yep - next Tuesday).

Another side note - I'm not one of the status-meter people. How do you know how many words your aiming for? I guess I could come up with a ballpark?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

In case you missed this ...


I'm part of this really great group called The Class of 2k8.

What is is? It's a group of first time YA/MG novelists with books coming out in 2008. We're the second generation of the "Class of"'s. Greg Fishbone started The Class of 2k7 last year which made a huge positive impression on the book world.

So 2008 is our year. And January starts off with 2 great book releases.

Liz Gallagher's THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE
Lisa Schroeder's I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME

I'm all set to head to the bookstore and buy both when they come out on January 8th, and I hope you will too!

But in the meantime, while you wait, head over and check out The Class of 2k8 Blog. We've been busy. We're excited. And we want to tell the world about it!